Types of Canvas Available for Painting

stretch canvasWhen an artist paints on canvas there are several different types of canvas available for painting. The term canvas is actually a generic term used by many artists for the various types of surfaces that can be used as a support for paint. These range from fabric to hardboard to paper to wood. However for the purpose of this article, we will only discuss the fabric which is the type that is most often used.

Canvas Types

Fabric for painting surfaces can be cotton duck, linen, or a synthetic fiber. When dealing with canvas for painting, there are three things to consider:

  1. Type of fabric — cotton duck, linen or synthetic
  2. Weight — the thickness of the fabric
  3. Weave — how tight the individual threads are woven

western sunset oil painting“Cowboy Sunset”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

>> More info


Cotton Duck Canvas
Canvases made with cotton duck fabric is the most common type of painting surface and the most economical. It comes in various weights and weaves.

Linen Canvas
Linen canvas is a more expensive type and is often regarded as superior to cotton canvas because the threads are finer and the weave tighter. In other words, it has a smoother finish than cotton and is more suitable for portraits. Belgian linen is considered the best of all linens.

Synthetic Fiber Canvas
Synthetic fiber canvas is not a traditional type of surface for painting and therefore is less commonly used. Some artists oppose the use of synthetic fiber canvas as they have not been around long enough for artists to really gauge their durability.